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  • Jancis Robinson
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  • Jancis Robinson
6 Sep 2016

As usual Ch Haut-Brion was one of the very first to pick - their white wine grapes. Now Martin Krajewski, who has sold his Ch de Sours in the Entre-Deux-Mers due south of Libourne to the Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, reports that the 2016 harvest is underway there. The picture here was taken at 7.45 yesterday morning, 'showing a change in the early morning weather as the mist lies over the vines shrouding the Château in a veil of eerie grey.

'Yesterday', Krajewski continues, 'we commenced the fruit (Merlot) for the sparkling rosé and picked 40 tons with an average yield approaching 90 hl which is incredible given the long, dry spell. The fruit is in good condition but we are a little more concerned about the Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon which have been badly affected by the drought with the vines showing signs of stress even on the limestone plateau. In St-Émilion we are still some time away from harvest although as we know things can change quickly'.

Bordeaux, like much of the south of France, has experienced an incredibly long, warm, dry summer. I hear that young vines on the right bank, particularly those on fast-draining gravels, are really suffering from drought stress. Vines under three years old that are not in production may be irrigated but those a little bit older than this, which may not be watered, are in serious trouble. In Pomerol they expect to have to sort and select grapes very carefully indeed when they are eventually picked.

On the left bank, on the other hand, fingers are tightly crossed that forecasts of a little rain this weekend to coincide with the Médoc Marathon might provide much-needed relief for the parched vines with their tiny, drought-shrunk berries, and may even deliver exceptional quality eventually if all goes well in the rest of the month.